You know that scene in movies where someone is staring down a long hallway and they need to get to the end of it quickly, but the faster they run, the longer it gets and the slower their steps seem to be? They might as well be walking in place. That’s how I feel, writing this current book. And the kicker is, I’m writing faster than I’ve ever written before. So why do I feel like I have nearly nothing to show for it?
Writers are told that if they want to stay “in the game”, they need to produce new material every few months. A new book, a novella, something to retain the interest of their readers. There are SO many authors out there and SO many books, that if you can’t keep producing something new, your readers are going to look elsewhere.
My last book came out in November. I had gotten used to deadlines, working with Crimson Romance. So this is the first time in a long time that I was on my own schedule. I started my current WIP for NaNoWriMo, in November. Sure, I got almost 35k words in, but this thing had so many problems that I threw it aside and refused to even look at it until January. Then it took me weeks to figure out what the heck was bothering me so much about it. I’m back on track, but I lost months of work time on this project.
Now I’m writing almost every day. Trying for a scene a day. Not quite NaNoWriMo word count, but productive. And then I start paying attention to all the new releases. Wait, didn’t that author have something out last month? A whole trilogy in a few months’ time? How the hell do they do that? I can’t compete with this! What’s the point? Why am I even trying?
Readers might not even realize the pressure that authors face to write fast, faster, fastest. Some authors rise to the challenge, stretching their writing muscles and going for it. Some go at their own pace and are happy to make any sales because they’re doing what they love. I’m that little hamster in the wheel, trying like hell to get at least three books out per year, like a good little writer hamster. I want to be noticed. I have big dreams that start with best sellers’ lists and conclude with my books being made into Hallmark TV movies. I don’t have the luxury of writing a book or two over my lifetime if I want these dreams to come true. I need to write, and I need to write often.
So what do I do? How do I take pride in accomplishment at having put in a hard days’ work? I’m currently on chapter seven, out of probably twenty. I feel like I’ve barely made a dent in the book, that there is so much to go. Yet I’ve been eating, sleeping and breathing this thing since November. I know I’m good for a scene, maybe a part of another, in one good work day. I can’t squeeze out any more than that.
I’ve read the advice out there: “If you want it badly enough, you’ll make time for it.” Um… making time. But my creative brain doesn’t work like most people’s. I have peak hours of operation. My muse takes off after seven PM or so. She might come back by five AM, but she refuses to sit up all night, drinking coffee and pounding out words while the rest of the family sleeps.
So yeah, I’m panicking. I am trying to finish this book, and as much of the next in the trilogy for Nationals this July. I set a goal to sign with an agent this year. But they don’t want to read my published books. They want to know what I have for them to sell. What am I working on next. How long does it take me to produce a new book? Am I worth their time and effort? Am I? I’m trying like heck to be.
Anyone have any coping strategies? (Besides alcohol?) How do I maintain a steady pace and still produce enough books to make an agent, readers and potential editors happy? How do I do this and keep myself happy? Because what is the point of writing books for a living if you aren’t happy while doing it? Yoga? Meditation? Cute baby animal videos? How do you keep from cracking under the pressure to be more than you are?